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NFL

Winning, job security don't go together in today's NFL

| Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, 7:30 p.m.

In past years, it wasn't hard to decipher a coaching trend in the NFL.

There's been a fascination with college coaches, including Philadelphia's Chip Kelly (Oregon) and former San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh (Stanford). Harbaugh has come full circle by taking command at his alma mater, Michigan.

Typically, owners have leaned toward coordinators for head coaching jobs. It's a logical step to ensure that experienced and successful coordinators are hired to revitalize an organization.

It's what the Steelers did in naming Mike Tomlin as Bill Cowher's successor in January 2007. Tomlin made the Rooneys look like geniuses in becoming the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl.

Now the NFL is going in a different direction. Never have so many coaches with winning records been dismissed, then immediately snatched off the unemployment line by teams desperate to turn around things.

Harbaugh took the 49ers to three NFC championship games before a dispute with management convinced him to take the job in Ann Arbor. In Harbaugh's defense, several NFL teams were interested in him.

Of the seven new coaches hired for the 2015 season, four reached the playoffs at least twice at their old jobs.

John Fox had a good 13-year run in Carolina and Denver, including two Super Bowl losses. Fox landed in Chicago after he and Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway couldn't agree on what players to surround quarterback Peyton Manning.

In Buffalo, where the Bills went through two coaches in 2014, Rex Ryan gets a new lease on his coaching life. He flamed out with the New York Jets but not before leading them to two AFC championship games in six years.

Gary Kubiak had two postseason appearances in Houston before settling in Denver after one year as offensive coordinator in Baltimore. Jack Del Rio had a decent run in Jacksonville, which included two playoff appearances, so Oakland gave him the keys to a car that's been running on empty for nearly a decade.

It's not a one-year wonder, either. Andy Reid (Philadelphia) led the Eagles to the Super Bowl before departing for Kansas City in 2013.

Success in the NFL doesn't equate to job security. However, it looks good on the resume when owners go shopping for coaches with proven track records.

Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. Reach him at rpaulk@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.

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